Another local park closed after contamination concerns
COCONUT GROVE, Fla. (WSVN) -- A second Coconut Grove public park has been closed after toxins were found in soil samples.
Park goers are being turned away from entering Merrie Christmas Park along LeJeune Road and Barbarrosa Avenue, Tuesday, after county environmental workers found elevated levels of toxic metals in two areas of the soil.
The park tested positive this week for high levels of metallic toxins, including copper, barium and arsenic, as well as others. "We are conducting an areal, light sampling, basically, a one mile radius around the old incinerator site," said Assistant City Manager Alice Bravo.
City officials plan to fence off the park Wednesday and are gearing up for more soil testing. "As of a result of concerns from the old incinerator site [where] two of the samples that they took at this park revealed high test levels for heavy metals," said Bravo. "As a result, they requested additional sampling."
Alex Santiago who frequents the park was confused when he was told to leave. "It's contaminated, which I'm pretty shocked by because I come here all the time. I'm just curious what's really going on," said Santiago.
City of Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff said he is working to keep people safe from these contamination concerns at South Florida parks. "One thing I can tell you is, I think it is the obligation of the city, I think it is the obligation of the county, and to some degree, I think it is the obligation of the State of Florida to say to each parent, 'Let's test all these parks,'" he said.
In the mid 1900s, there was a trash incinerator near the park. The incinerator closed in the 1970s. A firefighter training facility now stands in its place. "It goes to show you how careless people were in the 40s and 50s, and how there was no environmental protection," said Sarnoff.
"My house sits on the park, the back side of the park. I'm still alive. It doesn't mean I'm not full of toxins right now," said Timothy Brantley who lives near the park.
So far, close to 50 schools, parks and other public areas have been tested in Coconut Grove area by the Miami-Dade County Department of Environmental Resources Management. "What do we need to do to fix this problem? What do we need to do to make sure that our children, that our older folks are safe? And I think it's our obligation to do that. So what's broken, we need to fix," said Sarnoff.
The closure comes weeks after another park tested positive for contaminants. In that case, Blanche Park was temporarily shut down after crews found toxins in soil samples.
Crews have put up a metal fence to close off the park until further notice. The secondary testing at Merrie Christmas Park will take place sometime next week.
City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado's office told 7News he plans on testing all parks within the city, but there are no plans on testing all parks within in the Miami-Dade County area.
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